Wines have long been a subject of fine taste, titillating the senses and igniting the imaginations of romantics and connoisseurs alike. A bar would never run out of wine. Even breweries know they better have some on hand because the geekiest beer enthusiast might still show up with an oenophile in tow.
And if a hotel doesn’t want to be blacklisted by wine drinkers, there should at the very least be a healthy stock of Chardonnay or Malbec in the minibar. After all, minibars greatly profited hoteliers in their heyday. Except now the data suggest otherwise, and hotels are now looking for new alternatives. The fate of the minibar remains to be seen, as several surveys have shown a decline in its popularity and necessity.
Most hotels are a short distance from a supermarket or convenience store, and now in addition to local delivery, we have doorstep delivery services of snacks and liquor from the likes of UberEats and Drizly—at a far lower price.
While it might be convenient to scrap those mini fridges altogether, some people might miss them. Another concern with minibars is the theft and unethical replacement of products by guests, miscalculations, and conflicts over half-consumed bottles. A forum on TripAdvisor lists a significant number of people who feel minibars have created hurdles in an otherwise perfect stay.
One alternative is making waves in the hospitality industry. Plum, as it has been named, is a savvy new solution to the minibar conundrum. Call it a coffee machine for wine, only sleeker and much, much more sophisticated. From extracting to preserving, chilling and serving, this innovation is an all-rounder. Drop in any standard 750ml bottle, the company claims, and Plum can preserve wine for 90 days, at which point the last glass is still as fresh as the first sip. The patent-pending double-cored needle pierces the foil and closure, and pressurizes the bottle with argon gas automatically. Neither engineered cork or metal screw caps are an obstacle.
On the technology end, Plum features impressive specs. It sports a seven-inch touch screen that displays the varietal, vintage, region, winery, and wine from the two HD cameras set inside the chamber. With audio output, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity, and ethernet port, it gives the consumer a wholesome wine experience by streaming a virtual tour of wineries while also displaying tasting notes. With options to either taste or pour, there is minimal waste. Hotel staff has the liberty to change wine bottles according to guest demand or room class. Management can also set a reasonable rate per glass, according to what’s on tap.
Plum has the ability to integrate with property management systems (PMS), which bill the customer per glass poured and even notify the front desk when it’s time to replace emptied bottles. This automation negates the need of a dedicated minibar staff and saves hotels the maintenance revenue. Managers can track the profit and revenue in real time through Plum’s web and mobile apps.
Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley at East Palo Alto, California, and The Confidante Miami Beach, Florida, will be among the first luxury hotels to implement Plum’s on-demand wine delivery innovation. Perfect for when a guest wants to sip a glass of Carnival of Love Shiraz… but just one glass.
By Najook Pandya